Meeting the Challenges of Canadian Legal History: The Albertan Contribution


  • John P. S. McLaren



Canadian legal history has undergone a transformation during the past twenty-five years from a scholarly void to a lively branch of social and intellectual history. It is now recognized as an important area of research and speculation by legal academics, historians and people in a range of other humanities and social science disciplines. Courses in Canadian legal history are offered in most law schools and several history departments. This change has been brought about by the hard work and dedication of a small but energetic band of scholars. Albertan legal historians have played an important seminal role in this movement, in particular by researching and encouraging others to work on the legal history of the Northwest Territories and Prairie Provinces. This essay describes the growth of research into and the teaching of Canadian legal history in Alberta, and the special contributions of Wilbur Bowker, Louis Knafla and Rod Macleod to that endeavour. It concludes with several reflections on how interest in legal history in the Province might be further expanded.